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The Letter-Bag of Lady Elizabeth Spencer-Stanhope v. I. by A. M. W. Stirling (compiler)

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The following papers, which extend over a space of nearly seventy years
during a most interesting period of our National History, may be said to
form a sequel and a conclusion to two previous publications, _Coke of
Norfolk and his Friends_, which appeared in 1906, and _Annals of a
Yorkshire House_, which appeared in 1911. They are, however, more
essentially a continuation of the latter, in which the Cannon Hall
muniments and anecdotes were brought down to the years 1805-6, from which
date the narrative is resumed in the present volume.

In that first series of Papers which was published in the Annals, the bulk
of the correspondence centred round the personality of Walter Spencer-
Stanhope, M.P., who lived from 1749 to 1821. In the present series, the
correspondence is principally addressed to or written by John Spencer-
Stanhope, his son, who lived from 1787 to 1873. Other letters, doubtless,
there were in plenty, to and from other members of the family, but only
those have survived which found their way back to the old Yorkshire house
whence so many of them had originally set forth with their messages of
love and home tidings, and which were there preserved, eventually, by the
grandmother of the present writer, Lady Elizabeth, wife of John Stanhope
and daughter of the celebrated 'Coke of Norfolk.'

The following book, therefore, is appropriately termed the "Letter-bag" of
the lady to whom its existence is due, although her personal contribution
to its contents does not commence before the year 1822, when she first
became a member of the family circle of its correspondents. In it, in
brief, is represented the social existence of two generations and the
current gossip of over half-a-century, as first set forth by their nimble
pens in all the freshness of novelty. Thus it is an ever-shifting scene to
which we are introduced. We become one with the daily life of a bygone
century, with a family party absorbed in a happy, busy existence. We
mingle with the gay throng at the routs and assemblies which they
frequented. We meet the "very fine" beaux at whom they mocked, and the
"raging belles" whom they envied. Then the scene changes, and we are out
on the ocean with Cuthbert Collingwood, in our ears rings a clash of arms
long since hushed, a roar of cannon which has been silent throughout the
passing of a century, while we gauge with a grim realisation the iron that
entered into the soul of a strong man battling for his country's gain.
Then the black curtain of death shrouds that scene, and we are back once
more in the gay world of _ton_, with its petty gossip and its petty
aims.... Later, other figures move across the boards; Wellington, as the
ball-giver, the gallant _chevalier des dames_; Napoleon, in his _bonnet de
nuit_, a mysterious, saturnine figure; his subordinates, who shared his
greed without the dignity of its magnitude; next, in strange contrast,
Coke of Norfolk, the peaceful English squire, seen thus for the first
time--not as a public character, a world-wide benefactor--but in the
intimacy of his domestic life, as "Majesty," the butt of his daughter's
playful sallies, as the beloved father, the tender grandfather, a
gracious, benevolent presence. We read the romance of his daughter, that
pretty, prim courtship of a bygone day; we see her home life as a young
wife, the coming of another race of merry children; by and by, we follow
the fortunes of graceful "little Madam" with her brilliant eyes, and see
the advent of yet another lover of a later day. So the scenes shift, the
figures come and go, the great things and the small of life intermingle.
And as we read, by almost imperceptible stages, the Georgian has merged
into the Victorian, and the young generation of one age has faded into the
older generation of the next, till we are left confronted with the
knowledge, albeit difficult of credence, that both have vanished into the
mists of the Unknown.

Meanwhile, one aspect of this glimpse into the past requires but little
insistence. Among these two generations of Stanhopes a high standard of
education prevailed. This, coupled with the opportunities which they
possessed of mingling with the best-known people of their day, both in
England and France, makes it obvious that records written by such writers,
with all the happy abandon of a complete sympathy between scribe and
recipient, have a value which transcends any more laboured enumeration of
historical data. The worth of their correspondence lies in the fact that
it presents, artlessly and candidly, the outlook of a contemporary family,
of good position and more than average intelligence, upon events ordinary
and extraordinary, under four sovereigns. And while many books have been
edited describing the sayings and doings of Royal personages and political
leaders during that period, few have yet been published which present them
in the intimate guise in which they jostle each other throughout the
following pages, and fewer still which give any adequate picture of the
social life as lived during these years by the less notable bulk of the

Yet more, the writers of these letters are no mere puppets of ancient
history, who move in a world unreal to us and shadowy. Their remarks to us
are instinct with the freshness--the actuality--of to-day. Whether as
happy, noisy schoolboys and girls, or as men and women of the fashionable
world bent on pursuit of pleasure or of learning, to us they are
emphatically alive. Almost we can hear and echo the laughter of that merry
home-circle; their jests are our own, differently phrased, their joys and
sorrows knit our hearts to them across the century. They lived at a date
so near our own that it has all the charm of similarity--with a
difference; and it is just this likeness and unlikeness which lend such
piquancy to their experiences.






_From a miniature by Cosway_







_From a picture painted while he was a prisoner in the Tower_







_From an ivory bust_

"In town what numbers into fame advance,
Conscious of merit in the coxcombs' dance,
The Op'ra, Almack's, park, assembly, play,
Those dear destroyers of the tedious day,
That wheel of fops, that saunter of the town,
Call it diversion, and the pill goes down."


For the enlightenment of those readers who have not read the previous
volumes of which the present is the continuation, it may be well to
recapitulate briefly the material with which these dealt.

In 1565 a branch of the Stanhopes came from Lancashire into Yorkshire, and
eventually settled at Horsforth, Low Hall, near Calverley Bridge, in the
latter county. During the period of the Civil Wars, a branch of the family
of Spencer migrated from the borders of Wales into Yorkshire, and in the
reign of Charles II. one of them purchased the house and land at that date
constituting the estate of Cannon Hall. In 1748 Walter Stanhope of
Horsforth united the two families by his marriage with Ann Spencer of
Cannon Hall, and their son Walter, eventually inheriting both properties
from his respective uncles, bore the name of Spencer-Stanhope.

Walter Spencer-Stanhope was for thirty-nine years a member of the House of
Commons, during which time he represented respectively Haslemere,
Carlisle, and Hull. In 1787 he married Mary Winifred Pulleine, who
inherited the estates of Roddam and Dissington in Northumberland, in trust
for her third and fourth sons. By her he had fifteen children, but his
eldest son and first-born child, owing to an accident at birth, was
rendered _non compos_, and his second son, John, was therefore in the
position of his heir.

Mrs Stanhope, an exemplary and affectionate mother, appears occasionally
to have become confused with the number of her progeny and to have been
fearful of forgetting the order of their rapid entrance into the world or
of certain events which formed a sequel to their arrival. She therefore
compiled a list of such incidents, which is here subjoined, since the
reader may find it useful for occasional reference.

_The Family of Walter Spencer-Stanhope of Cannon Hall._

Walter Spencer Spencer-Stanhope, his first-born, came into the world
about eight o'clock in the morning of the 26th of August, 1784, & was
christened in Horsforth Chapel the 25th of September following, his
Sponsors were Edward Collingwood, John Ashton Shuttleworth, Esqre., &
Mrs Lawson of Chirton. He was inoculated by Baron Dimsdale the 13th of
February, 1787, and had about 30 small-Pox. He had the measles very
favourably in November 1790.

Marianne, our next-born, came into the world in Grosvenor Square on
the 23rd of May, 1786, about 7 o'clock in the morning, was baptised
there on the 20th June following. Her Sponsors were Sir Richard Carr
Glyn, Mrs Stanhope, and Mrs Greame his mother and aunt. She was
inoculated by Baron Dimsdale the 13th of February 1787, and was very
full. She had the measles in Grosvenor Square very favourably in March
1806. [1]

John, his third child, came into the world in Grosvenor Square on the
27th of May, 1787, between 6 & 8 o'clock in the morning. He had
private Baptism in his house that Evening & public Baptism on June
25th, 1787, or thereabouts. His Sponsors were the Earl of
Chesterfield, Sir Mathew White Ridley and Lady Glyn. He was inoculated
the 12th February, 1788, by Baron Dimsdale and had the disorder
favourably. He had the Measles and Whooping-cough at Sunbury. [2]

Anne, his 4th child, was born September 7th, 1788, between 6 & 8 in
the Morning at Cannon Hall, was christened at Cawthorne Church,
November 2nd, 1788, having received private Baptism about a Fortnight
after she was born. She was inoculated by Baron Dimsdale on or about
24th of April, 1789, and had the Disorder very favourably. Her
Sponsors were the Countess of Burford, Mrs Marriott & Mr Pulleine. [3]

Catherine, his fifth Child, was born between 6 & 8 o'clock on the
morning of September, 1789, at Cannon Hall; was christened at the
beginning of November following, having received private Baptism 3
weeks before. Her Sponsors were Mrs Bigge, Mrs Anne Shafto & Colonel
Glyn, She was inoculated by Baron Dimsdale, the beginning of April,
1790, and had the Disorder very favourably. She died 20th of November,
1795, of a Complaint in the Throat or Lungs, and was buried at
Cawthorne Church.

Elizabeth, our next Child, was born on the 5th of November 1790, about
1 o'clock in the afternoon, had first private Baptism & was afterwards
christened at Cawthorne Church on the 11th of December following. The
Sponsors were Mrs Ord, of Morpeth, Mrs Pulleine & Mr John Collingwood.
She was inoculated by Baron Dimsdale in March 1791 & had the disorder
very favourably. Died April 15th, 1801, of obstruction, in Grosvenor
Square, and was buried in St James's Chapel, Hampstead Road.

Edward, our seventh Child, was born on the 30th October, 1791 at 1/2
past twelve at noon, was christened at Cannon Hall in December. The
Sponsors were Mr Collingwood, Mr Fawkes of Farnley & Mr Glyn. He was
inoculated by Baron Dimsdale April 1st, 1792 & had the Disorder very
favourably. Had the measles in 1806. [4]

William, our eighth Child was born at 1/2 past four o'clock on the 4th
of January 1793, was christened on the 5th of February following, at
Cawthorne Church. His Sponsors were Admiral Roddam, Mr Carr Ibbotson
and Mrs Beaumont. He was inoculated by Baron Dimsdale the 24th of
March, 1793, & had the Disorder very favourably. He had the Measles at
Sunbury School May 1802. Went to Sea in the Ocean to join Lord
Collingwood off Cadiz, March, 1806. [5]

Thomas Henry, our ninth Child, was born at 1/2 past one in the morning
the 14th of May 1794, was christened the 9th of June following in
Grosvenor Square. His Sponsors were Lady Carr Glyn, Collingwood Roddam
Esqre., & Ashton Shuttleworth Esqre. He was inoculated by Baron
Dimsdale in April 1795 & had the Disorder very favourably. Had the
Measles at Sunbury 1802. Died April the 3rd, 1808, after a long and
painful illness. Was buried with Eliza in St James's Chapel in
Hampstead Road.

Charles, our tenth Child, born on the 14th October, 1795, christened
at Cawthorne, Sponsors Colonel Beaumont, James Shuttleworth Esqre., &
Mrs Elizabeth Roddam. Was inoculated in the spring, 1796, by Baron
Dimsdale. [6]

Isabella, our eleventh Child, was born on the 20th of October 1797, at
one in the morning, christened at Cawthorne Church the 8th of December
following. Sponsors, Mrs Roddam, Mrs Smith of Dorsetshire & Mr Smyth
of Heath. Was inoculated in Autumn 1798 by Mr Greaves of Clayton. [7]

Philip, our twelfth Child, was born January 25th, 1799, at one in the
morning; was christened by Mr Phipps February, 1799. The Sponsors were
Mr Edwyn Stanhope, the Rev. John Smith, Westminster & Lady Augusta
Lowther. Was inoculated with the Cow-pox May 1800 by Mr Knight. Had
the Measles at Putney in the Autumn, 1806. [8]

Frances Mary, our thirteenth Child was born on the 27th of June, 1800,
at 1/2 past twelve at Noon in Grosvenor Square & was christened there
by the Rev. Mr Armstrong on the 26th of July following. The Sponsors
were Samuel Thornton Esqre, Mrs Greame of Bridlington & Mrs Marriott
of Horsmonden, Kent. Inoculated with the Cow-pox by Mr Greaves in the
Autumn of 1800. [9]

Maria Alicia, our fourteenth Child, was born at Cannon Hall the 4th of
September 1802, 1/2 before seven in the Morning & was christened at
Cannon Hall by the Rev. Goodair on 22nd of October following. The
Sponsors were the Rev. D. Marriott, Mrs Henry Pulleine of Carlton &
Mrs Morland of Court Lodge, Kent. Inoculated with the Cow-pox by Mr
Whittle in Grosvenor Square the Spring following. [10]

Hugh, our fifteenth Child, [11] was born September 30th, 1804, about
five in the Morning & was christened at Cawthorne Church by the Rev.
Mr Goodair the 1st of November following. The Sponsors were Edward
Collingwood Esqre., Mr Smith of Dorsetshire & Lady Elizabeth Lowther
of Swillington. The four youngest had the measles at Ramsgate.

As will be seen by this comprehensive list, of the fifteen children of
Walter Spencer-Stanhope and his wife, three only failed to attain
maturity. The tale of their brief lives has no part in the following
correspondence, and might be dismissed without comment, save that the
mention of them serves to bring yet nearer to us that mother whose
powerful brain, warm heart and tireless pen bound to her the affections of
her children with a devotion seldom surpassed.

Of Henry Stanhope, destined to die after much suffering, many letters, not
inserted here, remain eloquent of the manner in which, throughout his long
illness, his mother denied herself to all her acquaintance and never left
his side. Of little Catherine Stanhope, who expired at the age of five,
two pathetic mementoes exist. One is a large marquise ring which never
left the mother's finger till she, too, was laid in the grave; the other a
silken tress like spun sunshine, golden still as on that day in a dead
century when, viewing it through her tears, Mrs Stanhope labelled it
tenderly--"_My dear little Catherine's hair, cut off the morning I lost
her, November 20th, 1795._" Of little Elizabeth a more curious and
harrowing reminiscence has survived.

_Grosvenor Square, Saturday, April the 28th, the day on which the
remains of my dear child were deposited in the vault at Mrs
Armstrong's Chapel between six and seven in the morning, attended by
her dear, afflicted father._

So little Elizabeth, in the spring-time of her life, passed to her grave
at a strangely early hour on that April morning; and her mother, in the
hushed house, took up the thread of life once more with pious submission
and the iron will for which she was remarkable.

At the date at which this book opens, many years had gone by since that
storm of sorrow had fallen upon her, suddenly, like a bolt from the blue.
All unsuspected, indeed, another grief, the death of her little son, was
approaching; but for the present contentment reigned.

[Illustration: MARIANNE]


[Illustration: ANNE]

[Illustration: ISABELLA]

[Illustration: FRANCES]

[Illustration: MARIA]

After celebrating the Christmas festivities, as usual, in Yorkshire, early
in January, 1805, she journeyed with her husband and family back to their
house in London, No. 28 Grosvenor Square, a building since much altered,
but still standing at the corner of Upper Grosvenor Street. [12] There she
was occupied introducing into society her clever eldest daughter Marianne,
aged nineteen, and preparing for the _debut_ of her second daughter, Anne;
and thence with the dawning of that year destined to be momentous in
English history, she wrote to her son John, his father's heir-
presumptive, a youth of eighteen, who had just gone to Christ Church:

The New Year smiles upon us, and, thank God, finds us all well, except
Henry, and he gains strength. May you see many happy ones and may the
commencing year prove as happy to you as I have every reason to
believe the last was.... You are really, my dear John, the most
_gallant_ son I ever heard of to make such very flattering
speeches.... It is vastly gratifying to a mother to have a son desire
to hear from her so frequently, and such a request must always be
attended to with pleasure.

How assiduously the writer fulfilled her promise is testified by those
packets of letters, dim with the dust and blight of a vanished century,
but in which her reward is likewise attested. "I do not believe," she
affirms proudly, "that there is a man at either of the Universities who
writes so often to his mother as you do, and let me beg you will continue
to do so, for the hearing from you is one of the chief pleasures of my
life." Moreover, that family of eight sons and five daughters, who, at
this date, shared her attention, in their relations to each other were
singularly united. Throughout their lives, indeed, the tie of blood
remained to them of paramount importance, although, as often happens, this
fact bred in them a somewhat hypercritical view of the world which lay
without that charmed circle. Graphic and lively as it will be seen are
their writings, their wit was at times so keen-edged that it is said to
have caused considerable alarm to the dandies and belles of their
generation, who suffered from the too vivacious criticism of their young
contemporaries. This was more particularly so in the case of Marianne, the
eldest daughter, afterwards the anonymous author of the satirical novel
_Almack's_. Brilliant and full of humour as is her correspondence, it
shows her to have been what family tradition reports, rich in talent and
accomplishments, gifted with imagination and keenly observant of her
surroundings, but withal cynical of speech and critical of temperament--a
woman, perhaps, more to be feared than loved.

Her brother John, the recipient of most of the following letters, was, on
the contrary, a youth of exceptional amiability, and unalterably popular
with all whom he encountered. Intellectual from his earliest childhood, in
later life he was a profound classical scholar. A seven months' child,
however, the constitutional delicacy which was a constant handicap to him
throughout his existence had been further accentuated by an unlucky
accident. When at Westminster, a fall resulting from a push given to him
by Ralph Nevill, Lord Abergavenny's son, had broken his collar-bone, and
with the Spartan treatment to which children were then subjected, this
injury received no attention. But what he lacked in physical strength was
supplied by dauntless grit and mental energy, so that, although in the
future debarred by his health from taking any active part in political
life, he early attained, as we shall see, to no mean fame as a traveller
and an explorer, while he was regarded as one of the savants of his

During 1805, when he was yet a freshman at Christ Church, his younger
brothers and sisters were likewise variously employed with their
education, the boys at the celebrated schools of Sunbury and Westminster,
the girls in the seclusion of a large school-room in the rambling house in
Grosvenor Square. And that the learning for which they all strove was of a
comprehensive nature, moreover, that those of their party who had already
entered the gay world never disdained to share such labours, is shown in a
letter written many years afterwards to John by his brother Charles, in
which the writer complains sarcastically--

You have no idea how happy, year by year, as of yore, the little ones
seem--(for they will always be called so, though now Frances is as big
as me and amazingly handsome). Yet still they have not one moment of
time to themselves. They cram and stuff with accomplishments
incessantly, and they prison me in my room & won't allow me to pry
into the haunts of the Muses. Marianne and Anne have been learning to
paint for these last two years, and make (_I_ think) but slow
progress. Marianne never will have done (I wish I could be so
industrious). She is now beginning to learn the harp. They are both
learning to sing from some great star, which is only money and time
thrown away; & Isabella, Frances and Maria learn to dance of one of
the most celebrated Opera dancers. Isabella learns a new instrument
something like a guitar, called a harp-lute. Marianne and Anne, having
learnt French, German, Latin and Italian, are now at a loss to find
something left to know, and talk of learning Russian. They will be
dyed blue-stocking up to their very chins.

Allowing for the exaggeration of a schoolboy, the letter throws an
interesting light on the standard of education aimed at by those who,
despite the imputation to the contrary, had no pretension to belong to the
recognised blue-stocking coteries of their day. And the father of that
busy, happy circle, in the seriousness of his own life and aims, presented
the same contrast to many of his contemporaries which was reflected in his

Fourteen years senior to his wife, and at this date in his fifty-seventh
year, Walter Stanhope had been M.P. respectively for his different
constituencies since 1775. A keen politician, he was punctilious in his
attendance at the House.

Nevertheless, as shown in a former volume, although a man of ability and
of intense earnestness of purpose, his devotion to his political labours
never wholly counteracted a certain lethargy of temperament which,
throughout his life, limited achievement. Thus, although in his youth
undoubtedly gifted with a lively fancy, or with what his generation termed
sensibility, this very trait seems at variance with the sum of his later
career. True, that under stress of emotion he could rise to heights of
impassioned oratory which provoked by its very evidence of latent power;
but the tenor of his existence was scarcely in accordance with these brief
flashes of genius, and the fulfilment of his prime belied its promise. The
record of his life remains one which commands respect rather than
admiration. Level-headed, sober in judgment and conduct, even while
possessed of a wit which was rare and a discernment at times profound, his
days flowed on in an undeviating adherence to duty which makes little
appeal to the imagination. As a churchman, as a parent, as a landowner, as
a politician he fulfilled each avocation with credit. As a man of the
world he could toy with but remain unmastered by the foibles of his age.
While a Fox and a Pitt rose to heights and sank to depths which Stanhope
never touched; while a Wilberforce was imbued with religious fervour as
with a permeating flame, Stanhope, to his contemporaries, presented
something of an anomaly. As in his early years he had been a Macaroni who
eschewed the exaggerations of his sect, so throughout life he could gamble
without being a gamester, could drink without being a toper, be a
politician without party acumen, and a man of profoundly religious
feelings devoid of fanaticism. But since he who himself is swayed by the
intensity of his convictions is he who in turn sways his fellows, possibly
the very restraint which saved Stanhope from folly debarred him from fame.

Meantime his generation was one of colossal exaggeration, both in talent
and in idiocy, in virtue and in vice. Men sinned like giants and as giants
atoned. Common sense, mediocrity--save upon the throne--were rare. Even
the fools in their folly were great. The spectacle was recurrent of men
who would smilingly stake a fortune as a wager, who could for hours drench
their drink-sodden brains in wine, then rise like gods refreshed, and with
an iron will throw off the stupor which bound them, to wield a flood of
eloquence that swayed senates and ruled the fate of nations. Even the fops
in their foppishness were of a magnitude in harmony with their period.
They could promote dandyism to a fine art and win immortality by
perfecting the role. Their affectation became an adjunct of their
greatness, their eccentricity an assumption of supremacy; their very
insolence was a right divine before which the common herd bowed with a
limitless tolerance.

In the world of London, as that celebrated gossip, Gronow, points out,
from generation to generation, certain men of fashion have come to the
fore amongst the less conspicuous mass of their fellows, and have been
defined by the general term of "men about town." The earlier
representatives of that race, the Macaronis of a former date, ere 1805 had
been replaced by a clique of dandies whose pretensions to recognition were
based on a less worthy footing. For while those previous votaries of
fashion, although derided and caricatured according to the humour of their
day, were, none the less, valuable patrons of art and literature, the
exquisites of a later date could seldom lay claim to such distinction. To
dine, to dress, to exhibit sufficient peculiarity in their habits and
rudeness in their manners whereby to enhance that fictitious value in the
eyes of those who did not dare to emulate such foibles, was the end and
aim of their existence. Yet it is doubtful whether posterity remembers
them less faithfully. Side by side with the great names of their century
there has come down to us the record of these apparently impudent
pretenders to fame, and it is questionable whether a Nash, a Brummell, or
a D'Orsay are less familiar to the present generation than those whose
claim to the recognition of posterity was not so ephemeral.

Thus, while the circle of acquaintance with which the lives of Stanhope
and his family at this date mingled serves to throw into sharper relief
his own divergence of character from that of many of his contemporaries--
those men who to great abilities, and sometimes to great achievement,
joined the pettiness of a fop and the follies of a mountebank--still more
did the typical man-about-town, with his whims and his foibles, his
shallow aims and his lost opportunities, compare strangely with the larger
souls of his generation. For the moment was one which called forth the
greatness or the littleness of those who met it, and which heightened that
contrast of contemporary lives.

With the coming of the nineteenth century the political outlook for
England had waxed grave. The air was full of wars and rumours of wars.
Napoleon, the mighty scourge of the civilised world, was minded to
accomplish the downfall of the one Power which still defied his strength.
"The channel is but a ditch," he boasted, "and anyone can cross it who has
but the courage to try." Boats were in readiness at Boulogne and at most
of the French ports, fitted up for the attempt, while the Conqueror of
Europe dallied only for the psychological moment to put his project into
execution. With bated breath Europe awaited the possible demolition of the
sole barrier which yet lay between the Tyrant and universal monarchy,
while upon the other side of the "ditch" the little Island expected his
arrival in a condition of prolonged tension and stubborn courage. At any
moment her blue waters and green fields might be dyed with blood. At any
moment a swarm of foreign invaders might trample her pride in the dust,
and crush her as other nations had been effectually crushed. But she meant
to sell her liberty dear. Out of a population averaging 9,000,000 souls
there were 120,000 regular troops, 347,000 volunteers, and 78,000 militia;
and still Napoleon paused.

Upon the threatened throne still sat good Farmer George and his prim
German consort, models of dull domesticity, of narrow convictions, of
punctilious etiquette--the epitome of respectable and respected
mediocrity, save when, with a profound irony, the recurring blast of
insanity transformed the personality of the stolid monarch, and shattered
the complacency of the smug little Court. Within its shelter hovered the
bevy of amiable Princesses, whose minutest word and glance yet lives for
us in the searchlight of Fanny Burney's adoring scrutiny. Afar, the sons
pursued their wild careers. The Prince of Wales, the mirror of fashion,
diced and drank, coquetted with politics and kingship, and--a very
travesty of chivalry--betrayed his friend, broke the heart of the woman
who loved him, deserted the woman who had wedded him, and tortured with
petty jealousy the sensitive soul of the child who might rule after him.

In secret silence Mrs Fitzherbert endured the calumny of the world, and
ate out her heart in faith to the faithless. With flippant and undignified
frivolity the Princess of Wales strove to support an anomalous position
and find balm to her wounded pride and weak brain; while the passionate,
all-human child-princess, Charlotte, awakening with pitiful precocity to
the realities of an existence which was to deal with her but harshly,
pitted her stormy soul against a destiny which decreed that before her the
sweets of life were eternally to be flaunted, to be eternally withheld.

* * * * *

But with the dawning of 1805 the crisis of England's fate approached
consummation. Napoleon's plans were known to be completed. Pitt's
Continental Allies were secretly arming. The sea-dogs who guarded the
safety of our shores--Nelson, Collingwood, Cornwallis, Calder--were on the
alert. Yet while England's very existence as a Nation hung in the balance,
in the gay world of London those who represented the _ton_ danced and
flirted, attended routs and assemblies, complaining fretfully of the
unwonted dullness of the town, or in their drawing-rooms discussed the
topics of the hour--the acting of the wonder-child Roscius; the lamentable
scandal relating to Lord Melville; or, ever and again--with a tremor--the
possibilities of invasion.





_Mrs Spencer-Stanhope to John Spencer-Stanhope._
GROSVENOR SQUARE, _January 18th, 1805._

Here we are established as of old and beginning our usual
avocations.... Our Opera-box we like extremely. I generally take some
young woman, which makes us cheerful. Miss Glyn [1] was of my party
one night, and was well pleased. Little Roscius [2] appeared again
to-night. I almost despair of seeing him, though I will try.

On Saturday morning, Marianne and I and five or six hundred others
went to hear Mr Sydney Smith [3] lecture upon the _Conduct of the
Human Understanding_. His voice is fine and he is well satisfied
with himself. I cannot say we came away much wiser, but we were well
amused. I hear that Mr Smith protests that all women of talent are

Lady de Clifford [4] is to be Governess to Princess Charlotte, Mrs and
Miss Trimmer [5] the acting ones. I doubt the mother accepting the
appointment. On the 25th February there is to be a grand ball at

[Illustration: MRS. TRIMMER]

_Marianne Spencer-Stanhope to John Spencer-Stanhope_.
GROSVENOR SQUARE, _February 1st, 1805._


I fear you will have thought me long in performing my promise, but as
I was to have gone to Court yesterday, I delayed writing to you until
the ceremony was over; as it is, instead of my letter being full of
royalty, peers and ribbons, you must accept nothing but the remnant of
those ideas, which the interesting hairbreadth adventures of _Tom
Jones_ have left me; in plain English the Drawing-room was put off
on account of the Queen's indisposition, and I am just at the end of
the above-mentioned delightful book. Oh! had I the wit of Partridge,
the religion of Thwackum, or the learning of Square, I might describe
with tolerable accuracy the intolerable stupidity of this great town.
The Opera is thin of company, thin of performers, thin of lights, thin
of _figurantes_, thin of scene-shifters, thin of everything! One
night we were a good deal entertained by having his R.H., & _chere
amie_ [6] in the next box to us, really they squabbled so, you
would have imagined they were man and wife....

As for Politicks, of which you ask so much, everyone here seems
discontented. All Pitt's friends, angry that he has deserted them for
Addington, and Lord Stafford, the head of them all, angry that the
ribbon should be given to Lord Abercorn--to one who has protected
rather than to one who has insulted Pitt--"Such little things are
great to little men."

The King, everyone agrees, looks charmingly and is more composed than
he has been for long. Lady de Clifford is appointed Governess to the
Princess (Charlotte)--_the bosom friend of Mrs Fitzherbert,
helas!_--and Mrs and Miss Trimmer under her; some say they will not
accept it. Dr Fisher, Bishop of Exeter, is to be Governor. I am for
making he and Mrs Trimmer disagree about Religion.

_Mrs Spencer-Stanhope to John Spencer-Stanhope. February 23rd._

On Thursday Marianne and I attended the Drawingroom, and so
disagreeable a crowd I never was in. Miss Drummond [7] looked very
well and Miss Glyn quite pretty--the great Hoop suits her figure. I
have not heard you mention being acquainted with a young man of the
name of Knox-Irish. [8] His father and mother live in this street, and
are friends of Mrs Beaumont's. [9]

I have finished the Life of Sir William Jones. [10] His acquirements
appear to have been wonderful--eight languages perfectly, but I think
it was twenty-eight of which he had more or less some knowledge. He
was withal a very religious man. His attainments were of the right
sort, for they fixed his principles and all his writings are in favor
of Virtue.

The speech Mr Windham made in the House of Commons was full of wit,
and would I think amuse you.

_Marianne Spencer-Stanhope to John Spencer-Stanhope._

The apparent good spirits in which you write, even after a
Mathematical Lecture, gives us reason to hope that that favourite
exercise has not quite deprived you of your valuable intellect Long
may it continue thus! Long may you be the glory of CH. CH.
Mathematicians; and when you have left the British Athens, long may
your name stand forward among the lists of those Worthies who
discovered that two parallel, straight lines might run on to all
Eternity without ever meeting!

As a little incitement to you to continue acquiring learning, I will
send you a short account of the manner that two Dukes of Suffolk
(_sic_) spent their time at Cambridge in 1550:

"During dinner, one of them read a Chapter of the Greek Testament, and
did afterwards translate it into English; they then said Grace, in
turns; & did afterwards propound questions, either in Philosophy or
Divinity; & so spent all the time at Meat in Latin disputation.

"When there was any Public disputation, they were always present;
every Morning they did read & afterwards translate some of Plato in
Greek, & at Supper present their Labours. They were of St John's
College, & every day were devoted to private lectures, & the Residue
they did account for."

I ought almost to apologise for sending you so long an extract, but I
thought it would remind you so forcibly of yourself and your
distribution of your time, that I was unwilling to deny you the
pleasure of the comparison.

_Mrs Spencer-Stanhope to John Spencer-Stanhope._

Thanks for the account of the distribution of your time. I flatter
myself you are too much attached to home and to the life you have led
here ever to get into the idle way of spending Sunday, which I fear
you will witness too frequently at Oxford, for from your account of
what they are obliged to do on that day, a very small portion only
need be given up to the religious duties of the day.

I was particularly pleased with a passage I met with the other day in
which Bishop Newton on the Prophecies, speaking of Lord Bolingbrook,
who, you know, was an unbeliever and from his talents and eloquence
had too much weight at the time, says, "Raleigh and Clarendon
believed, Lock and Newton believed, where then is the discredit to
Revelation if Lord Bolingbrook was an Infidel. 'A scorner,' saith
Solomon, 'seeketh Wisdom and findeth it not'"

I know not if your father took any notice of the part of your letter
to him where you mention that, in a lecture, it had been proved that
the Blacks were a species between men and monkeys--I think, for I have
not your letter, that I have stated rightly what was said. It might be
asserted, but surely could not be _proved_, and it is doctrine I
do not like, as it goes directly to justify using them as beasts of
burthen--a very good argument for a slave dealer.

_March 1st._

Your father is very well. He was sorry for the fate of the Slave Trade
Bill last night.

The Elopement and distress in the House of Petre has been the chief
subject of conversation for the last few days. Miss Petre [11] made
her escape from her father's house in Norfolk with her Brothers' tutor
on Monday last. It is said they are at Worcester and married only by a
Catholic Priest. However, Lord and Lady P. are gone there and it is
expected she will be brought back to-night. They can do nothing but
get her married to the man at Church. She is 18, he 30, and no
Gentleman. She was advertised and 20 guineas reward offered to anyone
who could give an account of the stray sheep. It is a sad History.
What misery this idle girl has caused her parents, and probably
ensured her own for life.

_Marianne Stanhope to John Spencer Stanhope._
_March 3rd._

You have doubtless read in the papers the account of Miss Petre's
elopement with her brother's tutor, Mr Philips. He is a very low man,
quite another class, always dined with the children, never associated
the least with the family, a sort of upper servant. Lady Petre thought
him rather forward, he was to have left them at Easter. She had seen
her daughter at twelve the night before, and only missed her at
breakfast. Her clothes were all gone. A friend of his, a brandy
merchant, accompanied her in the chaise, the tutor rode first. A
clergyman refused to marry them some time ago at Lambeth, but they
have since been married at Oxford by a Mr Leslie, a Catholic priest,
which is not enough. They are not yet discovered.

_The Same._
GROSVENOR SQUARE, _March 4th, 1805._


... London cannot be duller, those who remember it formerly were
astonished at the change that time has wrought, and those ho look
forward to the future, hope it will not always be so; but without a
joke, except the Opera and the house of Glyn, I have scarcely seen
anybody or been anywhere. We have three dinner engagements this week,
besides one at home, but not one Assembly. You must know that we
contrive to go out almost every night, but that it is only one degree
better, or if you please, two degrees worse, than dozing at home;
then, you know, as the existence of an Assembly is the not having room
to stir, when you have plenty of elbow room from the thinness of the
company it must be bad; besides another thing, when you have no time
for conversation, you fancy everybody is agreeable, and in fashionable
life, trust me, imagination is always preferable to reality!

Not a ball have I heard of excepting one the other night at Mr
Johnstone's, Hanover Square. Now you know, balls without dancing are
such very enchanting things! Without the Opera it requires a stretch
of imagination to know how we should have existed. Our neighbour, Mrs
Fitzherbert, in the next box to our own, affords us plenty of
amusement. I shall almost become an adept at finding out Royalty by
their conversation, from frequently overhearing what passes between
the Lady, and not only one but several of their R.H.'s. I will give
you an infallible guide to a Royal conversation. Stupidity for its
basis, an ignorance of intellectual merit for one prop, and a contempt
of moral excellence for the other; witticisms, _double entendres_,
mimickry, and every species of oaths that any English gentleman ever
made use of for the _fond_; as a whole you may call it double refined
folly and vulgarity. This is only doing justice to the conversations I
have overheard; far be it from me to wish to diminish the meridian
lustre with which these noble gentlemen shine. Let me rather forgive
_them_ for understanding who have no conduct and those for conduct who
have no understanding. The excellent qualifications of the lady as an
associate are evident, she has neither conduct nor understanding.

The ball at Windsor has been the general subject of conversation this
last week. The House of Stanhope put in a good appearance. Mrs
Pierrepont was there. The supper was most magnificent. Seats were
raised above the rest for the Royal Family; during the entertainment
the King rose, and gave the Queen's health, while everybody bowed and
curtseyed. Afterwards, the Queen repeated the same compliment to His

Our next-door flirt complained much to Lord Grantham at being obliged
to dance a great deal with Lord Petersham, which she thought very
tiresome. Mr Kinnaird [12] seems quite off, Lord P. quite out of
spirits. Papa thinks he really loves not her purse but _her_. She
seems to love nobody, and flirts with everybody. I saw her at Court on
Thursday se'nnight looking beautifully cross at not having a man near
her. The Drawing-room was a dreadful squash.

I have seen a good deal of the Kinnairds lately, we dine there to-
morrow and stay the evening. Georgiana is very pleased and looks well.

The Royal Institution is more the _ton_ than anything and Ladies
of all ages submit to a squeeze of an hundred people in a morning, to
hear lectures on the Human Understanding, Experimental Philosophy,
Painting, Music or Geology. We only attend a course of the latter--
don't shout at the name, it means the History of the Earth. You see
how wise I grow! Mr Eyre thinks all the ladies will be pedants, and
when you have been there, you will think so too. To see so large a
party, the majority ladies, not very handsome though all listening
with profound attention to the opinion of Descartes and Newton, some
taking notes and all looking quite scientific, is really ridiculous.
Mr Davy, [13] who lectures on Geology or the Chemical History of the
Earth, is very clever, his style is good, his matter interesting, and
to make use of an expression I heard a gentleman use, he certainly
writes on the subject _con amore_.

I hope you will like Sir Wm. Jones's life. I have not read it but have
heard it is very clever. My lectures at present are _Metastasio_,
and _St Simon's Memoirs_, the Bp. of London's lectures and Bigland's
_Letters on Ancient History_.

There is a little tale of Miss Edgeworth's which is much admired, "The
Modern Griselda," which you must read.

Of the names mentioned in this letter, that of Lord Petersham deserves
more than a passing notice. Among the members of the House of Stanhope, it
must first be remarked, there were to be found some notable exceptions to
the prevailing social type of that generation. Philip, Earl of
Chesterfield, for one, although he failed to keep up the traditions of his
famous predecessor in art and elegance, was never notorious for the
weaknesses of his day; and Charles, the 3rd Earl Stanhope, more violently
eschewed the foppishness of many of his contemporaries, devoting all his
attention to mechanical contrivances and scientific research. His
simplicity of life, however, was said to be the expression of his
Republican tendencies which he had inherited in a pronounced form from his
father, who had likewise left behind him the reputation of having been a
magnificent patron of learning. In fact, in order to emphasize his
democratic principles, so shabby had been the attire of the second Earl
Stanhope, that on one occasion he had actually been stopped by a new door-
keeper as he was about to enter the House of Lords. "Now then, honest man,
go back!" quoth this vigilant guardian of the sacred precincts; "you can
have no business in such a place, honest man!" And it was only with
considerable difficulty that the eccentric peer had asserted his right to
admittance among his fellows, whose honesty was enhanced by a more elegant

In marked contrast, therefore, to these other members of the family, it
was in the Harrington branch that the foibles of the _beau monde_ were
cultivated with intention.

Charles, 3rd Earl of Harrington, born the same year as Charles, 3rd Earl
Stanhope, had married Jane, daughter and heiress of Sir John Fleming, Bt,
who proved no unworthy successor to her celebrated predecessor
immortalised by George Selwyn for vivacity and abnormal conversational
powers. [14] The drawing-room of this later Lady Harrington was recognised
as a great social centre where her friends could meet, if not actually
without invitation, at least at a shortness of notice which marked the
informality of the entertainment and lent to it a subtle charm. The
hostess, whose energy was unbounded, would go out in the morning and pay
about thirty calls, leaving at each house an invitation bidding her
friends to assemble at Harrington House that same evening.

She would then walk up Bond Street at the hour at which the fashionable
young men of the day were likely to be abroad, and would dart from one
side of the road to the other as she spied a suitable object for her
purpose. A circle of friends assembled thus three or four times a week,
resulted in the formation of a recognised clique, the delightful
informality of which was much appreciated by her young relations from
Grosvenor Square, and the _entree_ into which was much envied by those who
were admitted only to the larger and more stately parties reserved for the
less favoured.

Nor were Lady Harrington's impromptu evening assemblies less celebrated
than her perpetual tea-drinkings at Harrington House. The superior quality
of this expensive beverage in which the family of Stanhope indulged there,
and the frequency with which Lady Harrington presented it to her visitors
at all hours of the day, gave rise to the saying that where you saw a
Stanhope, there you saw a tea-pot. A story current in town was that when
her son, General Lincoln Stanhope, returned home after a prolonged absence
in India, he found the family party precisely as he had left them many
years before, seated in the long gallery sipping their favourite
refreshment. On his entry, his father looked up from this absorbing
occupation, and, with a restraint indicative of the highest breeding, gave
voice to the characteristic greeting--"Hullo! Linky, my dear boy, you are
just in time for a cup of tea!"

Such a home was the very atmosphere in which to develop a fashionable man
of the period; and the eldest son of the House, Charles. Lord Petersham,
did not discredit his surroundings. Tall, handsome, and faultlessly clad,
he was one of the most celebrated dandies of his day. Decidedly affected
in his manners, he spoke with a slight lisp; and since he was said to
recall the pictures of Henri IV., he endeavoured to accentuate this
likeness by cultivating a pointed beard. He never went out till six in the
evening, and one of his hobbies indoors was the strenuous manufacture of a
particular sort of blacking which, he always maintained, once perfected,
would surpass every other. His sitting-room emphasized his eccentricity.
One side of it represented the family _penchant_, being covered with
shelves upon which were placed canisters containing the most expensive and
perfect kinds of tea. On the other, in beautiful jars, reposed an equally
choice and varied assortment of snuffs. Lord Petersham's snuff-boxes and
his canes were alike celebrated; indeed, his collection of the former was
said to be the finest in England, and he was reported to have a fresh box
for every day in the year. Thus Gronow relates that once when a light
Sevres box which he was using, was admired, Lord Petersham responded with
a gentle lisp--"Yes, it is a nice summer box--but would certainly be
inappropriate for winter wear!"

Caricatures of the period represent the heir to the Earldom of Harrington
clad in light trousers and a brown coat, seated upon a brown prancing
horse. One of his whims, indeed, was to affect everything brown in hue--
brown steeds, brown liveries, brown carriages, brown harness and brown
attire. This was attributed to the fact of his having been in love with a
fair widow of the name of Brown, whose charms he thus endeavoured to
immortalise; but whatever the truth of this rumour, it is evident from the
letter of Marianne Stanhope, that at the age of twenty-five he honoured
with his devoted attention a lady whose personal attractions and unamiable
disposition afforded a fund of entertainment to his relations living next
door to her in Grosvenor Square. And this sidelight on the character of
the dandy gives pause to criticism. How much, perhaps, of the eccentricity
for which Lord Petersham was remarkable, like that of the celebrated Lady
Hester Stanhope, may be attributed to the buffetings of a secret fate?
Yet, this man who, with exceptional abilities and exceptional opportunity
for exercising those abilities, could contentedly fill his empty days with
the manufacture of blacking, or pass an entire night, as Gronow relates
him to have done, playing battledore and shuttlecock for a wager with Ball
Hughes, was, in much, a typical product of his generation. His mannerisms
were accepted by his contemporaries with a forbearance which bordered on
admiration, and, however childish his peculiarities, he remained
unalterably popular. Nor were the other members of his family less
appreciated for their good-nature and amiability.

_Mrs Spencer-Stanhope to John Spencer-Stanhope._
GROSVENOR SQUARE, _March 19th, 1805._

I shall employ my Pen in sending you an account of last night's
gaiety--the first really gay night Marianne has had.

We began our evening at a concert at Mrs Methuen's, from thence we
proceeded to a very fine Assembly at the Ladies' Townshends, and about
twelve arrived at the Duchess of Bolton's, where we found them
tripping on the light fantastick toe with great spirit. Marianne found
herself near Lady A. Stanhope, [15] who was extremely attentive to
her, & her first partner introduced to her by Lady Harrington was Mr
Mercer. After supper she danced a Reel, and afterwards two dances with
Mr Dashwood, & then two with Mr Cooke of the Guards. I need not, after
this account of the ball say she was well amused. There were a great
many men & very young ones, not too fine to dance. Lord Alvanley [16]
is not amongst the smartest. Hay Drummond amused me, for _at five in
the morning_, he asked me if I had a daughter there!--I was in bed
by 1/2 after five.

Marianne is quite well this morning and very well disposed to go to
Almack's if your father does not object. On Thursday we go to another
ball at Lady Ledespenser's.

We have now delightful weather, soft rain yesterday; therefore I
expect a pull in the Sociable will be delightful to-day & do us all
good after our night's raking.

The Duchess of Bolton, [17] who was a cousin of Walter Stanhope, had been
a widow since 1794, when the dukedom became extinct on the death of her
husband. The latter, well known during the lifetime of his elder brother
as the eccentric Lord Henry Paulet, was believed to have supplied Smollet
with his character of Captain Whiffle in _Roderick Random_. For many years
he had resided at Bolton--formerly Baltimore--House, a quaintly
constructed, solitary mansion, standing on the outskirts of London amid
rural scenery, and encircled by a fine garden. Celebrated for its
hospitality in those the last days of its splendour, Bolton House had
opened its portals nightly to the guests who drove down from town to take
part in the festivities there, amongst the most frequent of whom had been
Walter Stanhope and his young wife. The duchess, however, subsequent to
her husband's death, had heard with dismay of a projected transformation
in her surroundings. The erection of new buildings in the neighbourhood
was predicted--houses which would blot out the rural scenery and for ever
destroy the privacy of her country home. And although this dreaded
innovation did not actually come to pass till 1801, long before the first
stone of Russell Square had been laid, the duchess had sold her threatened
mansion to Lord Loughborough, a friend of Walter Stanhope, and had
established herself in a new home but four doors from the house of the
latter, No. 32 Grosvenor Square.

Settled thus in the heart of London, her love of entertaining remained
undiminished, and beneath her hospitable roof the House of Stanhope, in
its various branches, continued to assemble as of yore. There Lady
Harrington still figured as one of the most constant guests, ever ready to
do a kindly action to any of her young relations whom she encountered. Mr
Mercer, whom she presented to Marianne Stanhope at the party on March
18th, was, as she was well aware, a man greatly in request in society, and
to whom an introduction was eagerly coveted on account of his exceptional
talent for music. Gifted with a remarkably fine voice, he sang duets in
company with a friend, in Greek, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and English.
"Mercer's voice and both their tastes are exquisite," relates Lord
Glenbervie at this date. "They accompany themselves, Mercer on the
Pianoforte, Gill on a Spanish guitar, which he has had made under his own
directions in London. Their foreign airs and words they have chiefly
picked up recently from ballad-singers in the streets."

Marianne Stanhope was therefore fortunate in securing this acquaintance,
as she was in having for a partner "Mr Cooke of the Guards," better known
in London society as "Kangaroo Cooke," for many years private aide-de-camp
and secretary to the Duke of York, and of whom Gronow relates that, "He
was in the best society and always attracted attention by his dandified
mode of dress." Still more, besides frequenting all the _Ton_ parties in
London at night, during the day he was invariably to be seen somewhere
between the barracks of the Horse Guards and the premises of Weston the
tailor in Bond Street, an ultra-fashionable promenade, which he paced and
re-paced, thus satisfactorily exhibiting the beauty of his clothes and
encountering the most select members of his acquaintance.

The curious nickname which clung to this dandy through life is usually
ascribed to a quaint resemblance noticeable in him to the Australian
quadruped after which he was called; but others attributed it rather to
the leaps and bounds by which he advanced socially, though on account of
his connections and the exquisite perfection of his dress this could not
be considered surprising. The fact that he bore such a name was well known
to him, and only on one occasion did it cause him any annoyance. Once,
when dining on board the flag-ship off Lisbon with Admiral Galton, he was
much startled by his host suddenly springing up and shouting out a
mysterious order, the terms of which seemed like a veiled insult. "Make
signal," thundered the Admiral, "for the _Kangaroo_ to get under way!" For
one instant the dismayed beau feared that this was a nautical form of
dismissal due to some offence of which he had unwittingly been guilty; but
his neighbour at table relieved his fears by explaining that the Admiral
was merely directing the immediate departure of one of the vessels of his
squadron, which, by a strange coincidence, bore the same name as his
honoured guest.

But a yet more celebrated leader of fashion mentioned by Mrs Stanhope as
being present at the ball given by the Duchess of Bolton was Lord
Alvanley. One of the accepted dandies in the same category as Lord
Petersham, the Duke of Argyle, Lords Foley and Worcester, Beau Brummell
and his great friend, Henry Pierrepont, Lord Alvanley had served with
distinction in the army, and further enjoyed the reputation of being one
of the wittiest men in Europe. Short and somewhat stout, with a small nose
and florid cheeks usually adorned with a lavish sprinkling of snuff, like
his rival Lord Petersham, he cultivated a lisp which accentuated the
humour of his utterances. He also adopted much the same method of
enhancing his value by indulging in certain peculiarities which, however
inconvenient to his fellows, appear to have been accepted by them with
surprising amiability. For instance, being fond of reading in bed, when he
at length felt sleep overpowering him, he would extinguish his candle by
the novel method of popping it alight under his bolster, or flinging it
into the middle of the room and taking a shot at it with his pillow--but
if the shot was unsuccessful, with a heavy sigh he left it to take its
chance. So well known, indeed, was this little habit of Lord Alvanley,
that hostesses who were anxious not to have their houses set on fire at
midnight would depute a servant to watch in a neighbouring apartment till
his lordship composed himself to sleep, a precaution which was invariably
adopted by Mrs Stanhope when he paid his annual visit to Cannon Hall.

However, despite such minor failings, Lord Alvanley enjoyed a popularity
seldom surpassed. To his other recommendations was added that of being a
celebrated _gourmet_, and the excellence was proverbial of the little
dinners which he gave in his house in Park Street, St James's, to which
never more than eight friends were bidden, and at which there was an
apricot tart on the sideboard all the year round. Moreover, although like
Brummell and Sheridan, many a _bon mot_ was fathered upon him to which he
had never given utterance, yet his reputation as a wit was well deserved,
and at a date when both the dandies and the fine ladies prided themselves
upon their undisguised insolence, Lord Alvanley remained a shining example
of good-nature, so that, save, perhaps, in one instance recorded in this
book, his wit never offended. Likewise, only once, it is said, did he
exhibit reluctance in consenting to oblige anyone who requested from him a
favour, on which occasion he conveyed his refusal in a singularly
characteristic manner. Some friends were anxious to get up a
representation of _Ivanhoe_, and begged Lord Alvanley to take the part of
Isaac. "That I fear is impossible," he replied. "Why so?" urged his
friends, "since you are so clever at doing different characters." "Ah,
but--" objected Lord Alvanley, "in all my life I have never been able to
_do_ a Jew!"

In truth, with the House of Israel his extravagance had made him painfully
familiar; nevertheless, as mentioned by Lord Broughton, on one occasion he
made his peccadilloes in this respect the subject of another jest. "Is
there any chance," he asked with assumed pathos, "of the ten tribes of
Israel being recovered? For I have exhausted the other two!"

* * * * *

It was three months after the ball at Bolton House, which had been
preceded by a concert at Mrs Methuen's that Mrs Stanhope mentions
attending another entertainment given by the latter hostess, to which she
went shortly after an evening of painful excitement.

_Tuesday, June 18th, 1805._

You would read in the papers of the riot at the Opera House. So
complete and mischievous a one I never before saw, or ever wish to see
again. I saw part of the stage pulled up and thrown into the Pitt, and
when the scene was thrown down, it was only wonderful people were not
killed, as the stage was full. Notwithstanding the damage was said to
amount from L900 to L1200, we are to have an Opera to-night.

It was said the House of Peers intended to, object to the Commons
prosecuting one of their House, but I have not heard anything more of
it--so I suppose it will pass over.

It formed the great topick of conversation at the Methuen's ball where
we were till five this morning--fine, but dull--the best supper I
ever saw.

The Opera House, at the date of this occurrence, was usually a brilliant
and attractive scene. The accommodation was divided into seats in the
gallery, boxes and pit. The latter, where many of the _elite_ were seated,
was separated from the stage by the orchestra only, which then consisted
of less than half the number of performers of which it would be composed
to-day. There were, consequently, no stalls, but a passage led from the
entrance to the front seats, known as Fop's Alley from the dandies who
lounged and promenaded there, partly to see and partly to be seen by the
ladies with whom the house was filled.

The dress of these exquisites was ruled by a punctilious etiquette, and
their knee-breeches, lace ruffles, diamond buckles, and _chapeaux bras_
were subject to the strictest regulations and to every fluctuation of the
prevailing mode. Their gold-handled spy-glasses were impartially directed
towards the stars upon the stage or to the belles in the neighbouring
boxes, where, from the grand tier to the roof, was a dazzling display of
beauty and of fashion. Their excursions to the Green Room were likewise
interspersed with visits to those amongst the audience to whose boxes they
had the entree; and as they murmured platitudes to their fair
acquaintance, they traced languidly the locality of yet other friends whom
they could visit, whose names were inserted upon the paper fans with which
each lady was provided, and on which was printed a diagram of the boxes
and a list of their owners throughout the great building.

But on this momentous night the very atmosphere of the place was
transformed. At the first token of the coming storm, many of the
frightened beaux hurriedly vacated their beloved promenade, while certain
peaceable members of the audience also endeavoured to escape from the
building. But the majority remained, brazenly instigating or prolonging
the disgraceful scene which followed. The cause of the sudden riot was
afterwards related personally by Michael Kelly, the then celebrated actor
and stage manager.

On account of the length of the arias and ballets, and the impossibility
of being able to get the lady-singers ready to begin in time, the operas
seldom finished till after twelve o'clock on Saturdays. The Bishop of
London had therefore sent to inform Kelly that if the curtain did not drop
before midnight, the licence should be taken away and the house shut up.
Against this fiat there was no appeal, and for two or three weeks running,
Kelly was obliged, on Saturday night, to order the closing of the
performance in the midst of an interesting scene in the ballet. On these
two or three occasions this was submitted to with unexpected good-humour
by the subscribers and the general public, but such a state of affairs
could not long continue.

"On Saturday, the 15th of June (Oh! fatal night!)," Kelly relates, "the
demon of discord appeared in all his terrors in this hitherto undisturbed
region of harmony. The curtain fell before twelve o'clock, just as
Deshayes and Parisot were dancing a popular _pas de deux_. This was the
signal for the sports to begin: a universal outcry of `Raise the curtain!
Finish the ballet!' resounded from all parts of the House; hissing,
hooting, yelling, (in which most of the ladies of quality joined)

"The ballet master, D'Egville, was called for, and asked 'Why he allowed
the curtain to drop before the conclusion of the ballet?' He affirmed that
he had directions from me to do so. I was then called upon the stage, and
received a volley of hisses, yellings, etc. I stood it all, like brick and
mortar; but at last, thinking to appease them, I said the truth was that
an order had been received from the Bishop of London to conclude the
performance before midnight. Some person from the third tier of the boxes
who appeared to be a principal spokesman called out--'You know, Kelly,
that you are telling a lie.' I turned round very coolly and looking up at
the box from whence the lie came, I said, 'You are at a very convenient
distance; come down on the stage and use that language again, if you

"This appeal was received by the audience with a loud burst of applause,
and the universal cry of 'Bravo, Kelly: well replied!--turn him out! Turn
the fellow out of the boxes!' The gentleman left the box, but did not
think proper to make his appearance on the stage. This was a lucky turn as
regarded myself, but did not appease the rioters; for finding their
mandate for drawing up the curtain and finishing the ballet was not
obeyed, they threw all the chairs out of the boxes into the Pitt, tore up
the benches, broke the chandeliers, jumped into the orchestra, smashed the
pianoforte, and continued their valourous exploits by breaking all the
instruments of the poor unoffending performers. Having achieved deeds so
worthy of a polished nation, and imagining no more mischief could be done,
they quitted the scene of their despoliation with shouts of victory."

There was, however, a finale to the drama which the rioters did not
expect. Mr Goold, a lawyer and great friend of Kelly, identified some of
the ringleaders and brought actions against them for damages which cost
them many hundreds of pounds. The lustres, scenes and musical instruments
which had been destroyed alone were estimated at L1500. And the
prosecutions were only withdrawn on the culprits undertaking to apologise
for their conduct, as well as to recoup all who had suffered through their
misbehaviour. Meanwhile, many persons were frightened from attending the
Opera for fear of a repetition of such scenes, and the rival attraction of
the performances given by the young Roscius prospered in proportion.

This infant prodigy, who was born in 1791, first appeared on the stage at
the age of eleven, and for over five years personated the most difficult
characters before enraptured audiences, earning from fifty to seventy-five
guineas per night, apart from benefits, so that he really made from L4000
to L5000 a year.

In 1805, the House of Commons adjourned in a body to witness his
performance of _Hamlet_. Wherever he appeared an excited mob instantly
gathered; ladies vied with each other in the endeavour to kiss his hand,
and at the hour when he was expected at the Play House a larger crowd
assembled than ever collected to see the king. "He and Bonaparte now
divide the world," wrote Sir William Knightly at this date; "This is, I
believe, the first instance since the creation, of a child so much under
age, getting such an income by any ability. I think he is very excellent,
his gracefulness is unparalleled and the violence of the desire to see him
either on or off the stage is like a madness in the people."

In the autumn of 1805, Roscius went a tour in the Provinces; in August of
that year he was in the North, and Mr Smith, the Vicar of Newcastle
(formerly tutor to the sons of Walter Stanhope) wrote to Mrs Stanhope an
account of the prodigy's reception there:--

_August 19th_.

The Young Roscius is engaged here for three nights, and makes his
_debut_ this evening in the play of "Douglas"; places are as yet
allowed to be taken only for the first four nights of his performance,
and so great is the expectation of Newcastle, that if the boxes had
held double the number of spectators, all the seats would have been

But whatever impression the young actor made on the other inhabitants of
Newcastle, the verdict pronounced by the critical Mr Smith is very
modified praise:--

For Mrs Stanhope's comfort and the credit and taste of the people of
Newcastle, I add that Master Betty has had a very good Benefit,
considering the thinness of the Town. I should conjecture the house
amounted to about L95; and admitting that he mouths a good deal, is
indistinct in his lower tones, and does not pronounce very accurately,
I was not displeased with his performance of Warwick in the play "Earl
of Warwick."

an engraving by J. Ward after J. Northcote._]

Despite this far from enthusiastic verdict, great was the excitement of
the Stanhope family to hear that the next county to be visited by Roscius
was Yorkshire, whither they usually returned before Christmas. Ere that
date, however, their thoughts were much occupied by a double tragedy, the
death within a month of their friends, Lord and Lady Kinnaird. [18]

_November 2nd, 1805._

I sent you word of the truly deplorable situation of the two poor
Kinnairds; within one month deprived of both parents, and all their
brothers in Yeomanry. When the last accounts were received, the
present Lord Kinnaird was at Vienna. Lady K. did not, as I sent you
word, die in her carriage, tho' in it when she was seized. Lord K. was
dining at the Ordinary at Perth races and was seized at dinner, the
Uvula descending into the Windpipe. He recovered sufficiently to
return into the room, but did not survive many days.

Lord Primrose [19] from whom the whole detail came, sent us also an
account of his gaieties, he and his father had been a tour in Scotland
and had not neglected to visit at Drummond Castle with which he was
enchanted, which he could not well fail being, as the lady of the
Castle [20] is a passionate admirer of it, and takes great pleasure in
it and manages much about the Estate.

We have at last concluded Roscoe's elaborate work, the Life of Leo X,
and I do not think I shall ever go through the whole again. The
Italian wars are tiresome and to me always most uninteresting. I
neither like Leo's principles nor those of his biographer. Parts I
shall certainly read again. The style is elegant, and he is an able
apologist. I certainly should recommend parts of the work to you; it
will be an amusement to you at Christmas.

The comment of Mrs Stanhope, as a staunch Tory, upon the famous _Life of
Leo X._, which was then attracting much attention, affords an amusing
contrast to the extravagant praise bestowed upon the work by the Whigs of
the day. Shortly after she had finished its perusal she must have returned
with her family to Yorkshire, where a fresh excitement awaited her.

"The Gallery at Bretton," she writes, "is to be painted, as well as the
staircase. The Architect says, he has worked there six months already. We
are going over to see the result of his labours."

Bretton Park, which was then undergoing such complete renovation, is
situated about a couple of miles from Cannon Hall, and its owner at this
date afforded endless food for discussion both in Yorkshire and London.

In a previous volume, [21] reference has been made to the celebrated Mrs
Beaumont, or, as she was universally called by her generation, Madame
Beaumont. The natural daughter of Sir Thomas Blackett of Bretton, she had
been made his heiress, and had married Colonel Beaumont, M.P. for York.
Although Mrs Stanhope and many others then living could remember her as a
village girl riding to Penistone every market day to sell butter and eggs,
Mrs Beaumont successfully ignored any such unpleasant reminiscences on the
part of those acquainted with her early life, and continued to dominate a
situation to which, thus heavily handicapped, she might well have

By dint of an unassailable belief in her wealth and importance, she held
her own with the county families, whose slights she ignored or repaid with
interest, and whom she alternately flouted and patronised. At once a
source of irritation and of amusement to her neighbours, this was
particularly so in the case of the family at Cannon Hall, whose property
adjoined her own and who were perpetually annoyed by her interference and
impertinence. There was unfortunately no boundary line between the
estates, so Mrs Beaumont used unhesitatingly to inform strangers that all
the land from the walls of Bretton to those of Cannon Hall was hers; while
on one occasion, when a dispute arose between herself and Mr Stanhope
respecting a certain tree, she settled the question in a characteristic
manner by causing this to be cut down in the night.

The letters of the younger Stanhopes were full of anecdotes of, or
complaints against their aggressive neighbour. "You can have no idea what
petty differences my father and Mrs Beaumont have about boundaries and
rights, which Madam Graspall claims in everything," wrote Edward Stanhope
on one occasion. "She warned us all not to shoot _anywhere_ on her ground
or Manors, also from Mr Bosville's, and she at once sent Mr Bird to shoot
on my father's land. However, we warned _him_ off! "But although the
sportsman with the inappropriate name met with a warm reception from the
younger branches of the House of Stanhope, Edward adds, "My mother never
will take part in these differences but chuses to call and dine. However,
as she was thus civil, this year Madam has chosen only to leave cards
without inquiring whether we were at home, and has now sent out cards for
a party and left us out!" None the less, although later in life, as we
shall see, the family at Bretton were cleverly satirised by Marianne
Stanhope, a show of friendship was maintained between the two families,
which, in the case of the younger generation was very genuine, for the
daughters of Madame Beaumont were the antithesis of their parent and were
simple and charming.

Yet Mrs Beaumont was undoubtedly one of the most curious characters of her
generation, in that, as stated, her self-assurance enabled her to tilt
successfully against the strong social prejudices of her day and to
sustain an all but impossible position with undoubted success. While
Yorkshire and London rang with tales of her effrontery, the imperturbable
lady, instead of perceiving snubs, dealt them, and in the height of her
triumphant career enjoyed the wrath of the amazed recipients. Meanwhile,
although many of the stories related of her were genuine, a few were
undoubtedly apocryphal, among which must be classed the following, very
generally believed in the West Riding a century ago.

It was said that being much addicted to gambling and proud of the
immensity of the wagers which she dared to risk, Madame Beaumont on one
occasion staked the entire Bretton estate on a game of chance. She lost;
and her opponent, being apparently as sporting as herself, dared her to
win it back by riding through Bretton Park and village astride on a
jackass with her face to the tail The idea of the haughty and pompous lady
undertaking such a penance must have seemed actually incredible, but
Madame Beaumont was not readily daunted. To the unbounded surprise of her
fellow-gamester she accomplished the feat and thus reinstated herself in
all her former wealth and grandeur.

In Yorkshire, she invariably drove about the country in a carriage drawn
by four beautiful black horses on which were seated postilions in velvet
jockey-caps. She owned an extraordinary number of carriages, and directly
news reached her that any visitor of importance was being entertained at
Cannon Hall, she would order out her finest equipage and drive over in
full state with the intention of enticing away the guest whose rank
attracted her. As usual, no rebuffs discouraged her-she failed to perceive
them. In London, she strove with equal determination to admit no one to
her parties who was not the possessor of a title--commoners, however well
born, were received by her with a scarcely concealed insolence. The big
yellow coach in which she and her daughters drove about town was a
familiar sight, making its triumphal progress through the most fashionable
streets, or drawn up by the Park railings that its occupants might
converse with the _elite_ among the loungers who thronged around it. For
those who scoffed at Madame Beaumont courted her diligently on account of
the excellence of her entertainments, while her luxury and the lavish
nature of her expenditure formed their favourite topic of jest and gossip.
Apart from her boundless hospitality to those whom she considered
sufficiently important to be honoured by it, the sums which she spent on
the house and stables at Bretton were said to have been enormous; and it
was doubtless with considerable curiosity that the family at Cannon Hall,
on their return to Yorkshire, hurried over to inspect the alterations
which their neighbour was effecting.

_Mrs Spencer-Stanhope to John Spencer-Stanhope._
CANNON HALL, _December 4th, 1805._

We drove to Bretton this morning. We walked all over the gardens and
the House. The number of people is enough to distract one Architect.
Improvers, Agents, etc., etc., without end. Much is done, and still
much remains to be done. Madame B. says she shall quite rejoice to
leave the place. The plants appear in great order and are very
valuable. The Collection is extremely large, but at present the plants
are so very small that to the ignorant they appear of little value--
which we know is impossible to be the case.

Thanks for the account of your studies; as for mine, I cannot give a
very favourable report of them. Hume's _Henry 8th_, Warton on Pope,
_Cowper's Letters_, and _The Idler_, are the books I have at present
in hand; but I have not much leisure. We are at present alone, and
with my family round me, I do not wish for company. It is not a bustle
of company I _like_, for I do not like the Society of the Country--it
is morning, noon, and night.

Roscius is now performing at Sheffield--I should like to see him

Life in the country at this date was apparently more exhausting than life
in London. No moment of the day was sacred from the encroachments of
visitors. Morning calls were the fashion, and it was held to be impolite
to refuse admission to friends who, after a long drive over bad roads, not
only expected the offer of some substantial refreshment, but in view of
the fatigue they had undergone and their desire that they should be
sufficiently recovered before undertaking the return journey, were apt to
outstay their welcome. Of a neighbour, however, who resided beyond the
distance practicable for a morning call, and with whom Marianne Stanhope
had apparently been staying at this date, she gives a more enthusiastic
description. Mr Fawkes of Farnley was the son of her father's old friend
and neighbour at Horsforth, in the days of his youth, Walter Hawkesworth,
[22] who took the name of Fawkes on inheriting the property of Farnley
under the will of a cousin. He was succeeded, in 1792, by this son, Walter
Ramsden Fawkes, who, in 1806, became Member for York, and later, as his
father had been before him, High Sheriff for the county. This younger Mr
Fawkes was a man of exceptional talent, who is best remembered by
posterity as having been one of the earliest and most munificent patrons
of J. M. W. Turner, but who was better known to his contemporaries for his
remarkable oratory. Mr Stanhope relates of him that once at a meeting
which was convened in Yorkshire to discuss the Peace of Amiens, he made a
speech so brilliant that the reporters declared themselves unable to take
it down, so completely were they carried away by its extraordinary
eloquence and beauty of language.

_Marianne Spencer-Stanhope to John Spencer-Stanhope._
_December 4th, 1805._

You cannot think how charmed I was with Mr Fawkes when we were at
Farnley, he is so full of information and talent. He told us two
stories which pleased me so much that I will endeavour to relate
them--both facts.

About ten years ago a friend of his was riding thro' a long and gloomy
wood in one of the inland counties. As he came to the most intricate
part, suddenly his horse made a dead pause, pricked up his ears,
snorted, and when spurred, refused to proceed, his eyes all the time
upon one spot on the ground. On looking towards this place, conceive
the gentleman's horror at beholding a woman's body weltering in blood
and a dog licking the wounds. The traveller stood for some minutes
petrified with horror, his eyes rivetted on the body, when all at once
the dog, perceiving him, set off full speed thro' the thickest part of
the wood.

He was resolved to pursue the animal, and instantly spurring his
horse, he followed it through most intricate and unfrequented roads
for about ten miles, when he saw it enter a miserable house in a
little village. The traveller put up his horse, and entering the same
house, desired they would bring him something to drink. There were
three ill-looking fellows sitting round a table, under which the dog
had lain down. The traveller's object was now to find out to whom the
dog belonged, he tried every means, in vain, for about an hour, when,
seizing hold of the poker he, under some trivial pretext, gave the dog
a violent blow on the head, upon which one of the men with an oath
asked him why he did this. The gentleman with much presence of mind,
turned the poker promptly against the man who asked the question, and
having overpowered him in a pretended quarrel, discovered in his
pocket a bag of gold. The rest I do not know, but the man was hanged
for the murder in Oxfordshire or Warwickshire about ten years ago. Is
it not a curious story?

Mr Fawkes thinks it would be a fine subject for a picture--the awful
gloominess of the wood, the dead body, the dog licking the wounds, the
horror of the horse, and the man's countenance as he sat contemplating
the scene--he thinks might be wonderfully portrayed on canvas.

His other story is of a different cast. You have doubtless heard of
Edwards the great bookseller. He has quitted his shop in Town, and
gone to reside at his native place, Halifax. He is a great miser, but
being a man of talent, often visits Mr Fawkes. One day he arrived upon
such a miserable hired horse that they resolved to play him a trick.
Accordingly, after dinner the Steward came in, with a solemn face,
stating that instead of killing a horse that was meant for the dogs,
they had shot Mr Edwards's; that it was half eat before they found out
the mistake. Edwards was in a dreadful pucker; but at last, having
condoled with him, they told him that the only difference between his
deceased horse & the one of Mr Fawkes's which they had meant to kill,
was that Mr Fawkes's horse had not a white spot on its forehead, & his
legs were not white, but that by _painting them_ it would look
just the same, and that the people at the livery stable would never
find out the mistake. Edwards was highly delighted with this plan,
and, would you believe it, he was mean enough to hope by this means to
cheat the man. You may picture what fun it was to Mr Fawkes and his
servants to see him ride home on his _own_ hired horse all bedaubed
with paint; after which he wrote word triumphantly, "The man at the
Livery Stables has never found out the trick _we_ have put on him!"
How they will all quiz him when finally they tell him the truth!!

When shall you come to Yorkshire? You will find Frances grown quite a
beauty and Philip an adept at _l'art militaire_. I am glad you
were so pleased with the young Beaumonts. Their sister rode here the
other day, she is a very nice girl and nearly pretty.

Mr and the Miss Abbotts left us yesterday, after a week's visit They
are very musical, but rather too Irish for our taste. To give you some
idea of them, they talk of people being _beasts and puking whelps,
and brutes_. They frequently _blest their souls and bodies_, and
"_talked their fill_" which was not a "_few_." Surely this cannot be
elegant, even in Ireland. Have you any Hibernian friends who could
inform you on this subject? Adieu, breakfast waits. All here send
their love.

These Hibernian friends were apparently not the only guests whose
peculiarities occasioned the Stanhope family some mild surprise. The
handsome Bishop of Carlisle [23] and his wife, Lady Anne Vernon, were at
this date frequently at Cannon Hall, and both of them and of their ten
sons various anecdotes are related. Mr Stanhope, indeed, as Member for
Carlisle, had long been intimate with the popular prelate, and used to
tell with what unstinted hospitality Dr Vernon was wont to receive his
countless visitors at the Palace on public days, also what a picturesque
sight he then invariably presented in his full-bottomed, snow-white wig
and bright, purple coat. But the good bishop, though extremely stately and
impressive of demeanour, was gifted with a keen sense of humour and could
enjoy a spice of frivolity when he could indulge in it without detracting
from his dignity. In 1807 he was appointed to the Archbishopric of York,
and was fond of retailing how a groom belonging to his old friend, Sir
James Graham, [24] got news of the event and rode hard to Netherby to take
his master the first tidings. Bursting into the dining-room where a large
party of guests were assembled, the man exultingly shouted out
the Information which he was desperately afraid someone else might have
anticipated--"Sir Jams! Sir Jams! The Bushopp has got his situation!" The
sense of humour cherished by Dr Vernon seems to have been inherited by his
sons in a different guise. In two undated letters Marianne relates to her

Here is an anecdote of your friend, the sailor, Mr Vernon, [25] who
has got some prize money. He was walking, I believe, a few days since
with a gentleman in the streets when they met two men who spoke to him
civilly and to whom he returned a very short answer. His companion
inquired who they were. He said--"Two men who came over in the ship
with me." "Then why were you so cold in your manner to them?" asked
his friend. "Why, my dear fellow, because they were convicts returned
from transportation!" was Vernon's answer.


Your ball appears to have been very gay, but you never named your
opinion of Miss Monckton. [26] I assure you her sisters at Harrogate
were quite belles, the gentlemen made Charades on them. I must close
my letter with a story of Mr Vernon, [27] told me by a gentleman we
met at Sir Francis Wood's.

At one of the Lichfield balls, he came in so late that everybody
inquired the reason. He said he had been waiting for his tailor while
he was sewing the buttons on his etceteras. Each of these buttons
contained the picture of a French beauty, and he had the tailor in his
room while his hair was being dressed in order to tell him which to
place _nearest to his heart_.

In the course of the evening he told a lady a wondrous story, and upon
her looking surprised, he said vehemently--"Upon my honour, Madam, it
is true!"--adding gently--"When I say 'Upon my honour' Madam, _never
believe me_."

Adieu, and at least believe me, Your affectionate sister, M. A. S. S.

Mr George Vernon, indeed, appears to have been of a somewhat
impressionable temperament, for a few years later his sister-in-law, Lady
Granville, writing from Trentham to announce her departure for Texel,
remarks, "I must take Mr Vernon away to flirt with my beauties there. It
will not be dangerous for Lady Harriet, and Corise bears a charmed life.
_He will be proud beyond measure and fancy both are in love with him._"
Yet with the dawning of 1806, the mention made by the Stanhopes of these
friends comes in sad contrast to the lively tales respecting them in which
they were wont to indulge.

As January drew to a close Walter Stanhope received an intimation that the
illness of William Pitt was likely to have a fatal termination. He
hastened up to town, and was in time to take a last farewell of his
friend. [28] His family followed more leisurely, and on the 27th, from
Grosvenor Square, Mrs Stanhope wrote:--

I cannot say how shocked I was with the melancholy intelligence of
Edward Vernon's death, and of the dangerous illness of George. I hear
it was the scarlet fever.

On the 30th she adds:--

This morning I had particular pleasure in reading the favourable
report you sent your father of George Vernon. I now trust he will be
restored to his afflicted parents, and great as is their loss they
will have much cause for thankfulness to Providence when they reflect
how near they were losing both their valuable sons. I hear that the
Bishop and Lady Anne are wonderfully composed.

But the sinister note with which the year had dawned was unexpectedly
accentuated. In February she writes:--

What a moment is the present! Every hour brings report of death. In
addition to our great National losses is now the death of Lord
Cornwallis--a man who was a blessing and ornament to his country.
Awful and critical is the present period. Woronzow, the Russian
Minister, is likewise dead. He is brother to the Woronzow who is
Ambassador here. [29]

In our Peerage there are also great changes, Lord Coventry, Lord
Somers, and it is said, Lord Uxbridge, are _all_ dead.


It is strange there is not a word mentioned of Lord Uxbridge's death
in to-day's paper. The Ministry is still unsettled. Lord Moira is
expected in Town to-day. You will be glad to hear Addington is
certainly better, and that the family entertain hopes of his recovery.

Pray inform Glyn I saw Lady and Miss Glyn to-day, the latter in great
beauty, just returned from hearing Dr Crotch [30] lecture on Musick at
the Institution, where they attend as assiduously as ever.


Lo! Lord Coventry is come to life again! I wish it were possible the
same could happen to Lord Cornwallis, but alas, that cannot be! Who
will succeed him must yet remain a secret.

Mrs Beaumont was with us last night. Col. Beaumont had in the morning
inquired whether Gloucester House was to be sold, as provided they
could renew the lease, they would like to have it.

Egremont House is to be sold on the 13th. My opinion is they will have
that. Why not both?

What think you of Sydney Smith lecturing to small audiences? Such is
popular favour. He may thank Westminster for the neglect he now meets

I am reading a book I think you would be amused with. Turner's History
of the Anglo Saxons. It contains much to amuse an Antiquarian, and I
consider you as having a little taste that way. Lady Glyn, who is
with us, is studying Juvenal. Marianne has just lifted her eyes from
Euclid to desire her love to you. Anne is employed at her Harp.

Meanwhile, the family had resumed the placid routine of their usual life,
of which, in the next letter, Marianne furnishes her brother with a
graphic account.

_February 14th, 1806._

Mamma must, I am sure, have informed you of our various proceedings,
in her numerous letters to you, and therefore I will not torment you
with a repetition. Our life since we came to London has passed in its
usual routine of _faisant bien des riens_; arranging the teaching
geniuses, making the usual purchases and visiting the usual set;
walking in Hyde Park, and watching the people in the Square. This
morning, we have Mr Roussin for the third time, have taken a short
turn in the Park, and called on Mrs M. Marriott, and at present Anne
is rehearsing to Myer on the harp, who is all astonishment at the
progress she has made. We dine and stay the evening at the Dowager
Lady Glyn's.

Anne relishes London vastly, and hitherto the little going out she has
had agrees with her. The Opera is her delight. Papa took William
there, and I never saw a child so happy. He enjoys going out

Are you not outrageous at the manner in which Mr Singleton, [31] son-
in-law to the great man who died for his country, was turned out? I
think it is really a disgrace to the Nation. I should have thought
every connection of my Lord Cornwallis would have been distinguished
with honours, instead of which he is turned out of Office as soon as
the account arrived of his Father-in-Law's death.

The papers have indeed been in a most bloody humour, they have
unjustly killed Lord Coventry, Lord Uxbridge, Lord Harrowby, and it
was astonishingly reported that Lord Melville had destroyed himself,
when he was quite well. It really was curious to hear people inquiring
in the most melancholy tone, what was the cause of such a Lord's
death, and the next person announcing merrily that he was perfectly
well! Lord Kinnaird is expected home daily with the transports.

We heard the other day that the Princesses had received a letter from
the Duchess of Wurtemburg [32] since she had seen the Empress of
France. Upon entering, the Duchess said she felt something like
_effroi_, which Madame Bonaparte took for _Froid_ and she threw over
her shoulders a most beautiful shawl she had been wearing herself. The
Emperor was very polite and never named England or the English. He
brought a most superb _present de noces_ for the Princess of
Wurtemburg who is going to be married.

I wish also to tell you a story I heard of Erskine. He was dining one
evening with a large party at Carlton House. The conversation turned
upon Sir Robert Calder's sentence. [33] Erskine said, to set a pack of
yellow Admirals who had never seen active service to judge a brave and
distinguished Officer was horrible. "They might as well," said he,
"_set a parcel of Attorney's clerks to judge Erskine_!" Is not
this _Chancellor Ego_?--This was just before he was Chancellor.
His wife died a short time ago, and his daughter wrote word to a
friend that had her father known how soon her mother would die, he
would not have behaved better to her! They must all be mad, I think.

Thomas Erskine, the third son of the 10th Earl of Buchan, was, in 1806,
appointed Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain and elevated to the
Peerage the same year by the title of Baron Erskine. Brilliant, eloquent
and witty, from his habit of invariably talking about himself and his
concerns, he was given the name of Chancellor Ego. Owing to his being of
opposite politics, the Stanhopes were disposed to view him somewhat
disparagingly, and owned, indeed, but slight acquaintance with him till
years afterwards when they met him at Holkham. It was on the occasion of a
dinner-party in London, however, that Lord Erskine once told John Stanhope
the following story, and which the latter used to recount as an instance
of the Chancellor's genuine kindliness of heart.

"In the days of my youth", Lord Erskine related, "I arrived in Edinburgh
one morning after a lengthy absence from Scotland, feeling delighted at
the prospect of re-visiting my old haunts and looking up my old friends. I
went first to a bookseller's shop which I was fond of visiting, and as I
was leaving it, to my surprise and pleasure I encountered an old butler
who had been for many years in my father's service. I noticed, however, to
my regret, that the old man looked greatly changed. He was pale, worn and
shadowy as a ghost. Moreover, when I greeted him genially he showed little
excitement at the unexpected encounter. 'I came to meet your honour,' he
said, very gravely, 'I want to solicit your interference with my Lord to
recover a sum of money due to me which the steward at the last settlement
would not pay.'

"Struck both by his manner and his unaccountable knowledge of my
movements, I decided to question him further respecting the cause of his
evident distress. Stepping back into the shop, therefore, I invited him to
follow me, explaining that there we could discuss the matter privately.
When, however, I turned round to hear what he had to tell me, I found that
he was gone, nor, on returning to the door, could I see him anywhere in
the street.

"Unable to account for his abrupt departure, and anxious to help him if it
lay in my power, I recalled that his wife had a little shop in the town,
and I succeeded in tracing my way thither. Judge of my astonishment on
finding the old woman in widow's mourning, and on learning from her that
her husband had been dead for some months! Still more was I startled upon
hearing that on his death-bed he had repeatedly told her that my father's
steward had wronged him of some money, but that when Master Tom returned
he would see her righted. Needless to say, as speedily as possible I
accomplished the old man's dying wish which had been so strangely brought
to my knowledge."

The next mention of Chancellor Ego which occurs in Mrs Stanhope's
correspondence is not so complimentary:--

_June 3rd, 1806._

Your sisters are now well, and propose being very gay. To-morrow, in
the morning, we attend the Drawingroom, after which your father dines
at what is called Mr Pitt's Dinner, & where the attendance is expected
to be very large. In the evening, I am to have a few friends, amongst
them Lady C. Wortley and Mr Mercer, who sing together most
beautifully; after which I shall go to Mr Hope's, the finest house in
London, with respect to taste and _vertu_.

We have now fine weather. You would delight in Kensington Gardens, or
perhaps you would prefer joining the impertinent Loungers who sit on
Horseback, too lazy to join the walkers. The political world is at
present in a strange situation. Should Lord Melville be acquitted he
will probably take an active part in Indian affairs. There is a
canvass against him, but I trust British Peers are not to be

I hope our _Dancing Chancellor_ will act properly as far as he is
concerned, but I believe he is now referred to the House of Peers. If
the intelligence has not yet reached you, you will wonder at the
expression "Dancing Chancellor." Know then that at Sheridan's ball the
Lord High Chancellor of England [34] danced with Miss Drummond after
having dined and sat too long with a party where was the Prime
Minister, [35] the Chancellor of the Exchequer [36] and a greater
Personage than any. They contrived to set Somerset House on fire
_twice_, and, after dancing, the head of the Law amused himself
with rowing on the Thames.--So much for the Rulers of this Land!

Thomas Hope of Deepdene, Surrey, and Duchess Street, Portland Place, who
is mentioned in the above letter, was a member of an eminent commercial
family, of Scottish descent, generally known as the Hopes of Amsterdam.
Having inherited an immense fortune at the age of eighteen, he became an
early patron of literature and the arts. Flaxman owed much to his support,
Thorwaldsen and Chantrey to his recognition of their genius early in life.
Crazy also about architecture, Mr Hope travelled all over the world,
studying famous buildings and collecting, meanwhile, priceless treasures
in pictures, statues, and furniture, so that on his return he
reconstructed his home in London, and replenished it with beautiful
possessions. In 1805 he published a handsome volume on Household
Furniture, illustrated by many drawings of the fine specimens in his own
house. He afterwards wrote other works, but is most celebrated as the
writer of a romance, _Anastasius_, the authorship of which was at one time
attributed to Byron, and of a scientific work, _The Origin and Prospects
of Man_, which may be considered the parent of the well-known _Vestiges of
Creation_, and which formed the basis of one of Carlyle's most remarkable

In 1806, he was, however, still looked upon as a mere superficial
dilettante, though, on account of the _objets d'art_ which he owned,
everyone was eager to gain access to his house. This desire was
accentuated with regard to the party which he gave that year, it being the
first for which he had issued invitations since his marriage, in the
previous April, with Louisa, the youngest daughter of the Right Rev. Lord
Decies, Archbishop of Tuam.

_Mrs Spencer-Stanhope to John Spencer-Stanhope._
_June 6th, 1806._

Had you been here on the Birthday night, you would have pronounced us
of the Wronghead Family, for we had nothing but _contretemps_ from the
moment we set out for the Drawingroom till the next day rose upon us.

At three we set out in wind and rain for St James's, & drove down
Grosvenor Street; but as there was a string of carriages from Oxford
Street, to get in was impossible. We therefore turned about and tried
Dover Street, but there we were not permitted to go. At last, after
much whipping and much delay, we were admitted into the string in
Albemarle Street, and in process of time reached St James's safely and
proceeded as far as the Guard Room.--Further, we never arrived! All
the people who came out of the Drawingroom looked expiring, and begged
we would not attempt to go in, as they were almost dead, and many had
fainted. Very soon we found the Queen had taken herself off, not
having spoken to above one third of the Company. Notwithstanding that
we had only our labour for our trouble, we were there till half past
seven before we could get our carriage.

In the evening I expected Mr Mercer and Lady C. Wortley to sing, and
the Eyres. All came but Mr Mercer, the songster,--another
disappointment! They stayed with me till half past eleven, when we set
out for Mr T. Hope's rout, but after waiting in the street _till
near one_, we found to get in was impossible. Therefore very
reluctantly we turned about and came home. Did you ever hear of such
disappointments? However, we are all quite well, which probably would
not have been the case had we done all we intended.

The Wit at the Drawingroom was to call it the _levee en masse_.
London does not abound in wit. The only things of the sort I have
heard are what has been said about Mrs Fox's Ball. The first is given
to Fox himself who was asked what it was like, and referred the
inquirer to the 22nd Chapter of the First Book of Samuel at the second
verse, [37] where is to be found a very just description of it, tho'
probably you would not have thought to have looked at your Bible for
an account of Mrs Fox's Ball. The other was a _bon mot_ of your
friend, Lyttleton [38] who said, "There was all the world, but little
of his wife!"

Last night I was at Mrs Law's, a very pleasant Assembly. Osborne
Markham [39] was flirting with his intended, Lady Mary Thynne, a
pretty-looking woman.

Mr Lyttleton, whose _bon mot_ respecting Mrs Fox's ball so pleased Mrs
Stanhope, was a constant source of amusement to her and her daughters.
Earlier that same year, on March 4th, she had written:--

I suppose you saw the address which Mr Lyttleton made to the
Freeholders of Worcestershire? It was very short & I think
comprehended in these words:--"_Be assured that the Hon. William
Henry Lyttleton will offer himself at the next county Meeting; if the
Freeholders will be true to their interest & to the welfare of the

This short address was posted in the corner of the newspaper. Now you
must know that his father knows nothing about his offering himself;
and this was printed in the corner of the newspaper that his sister
might cut it out before his father saw it! I understand that he has
the majority on the Poll at present & that he made a speech of above
two hours in length.

In an undated letter she subsequently relates:--

Have you heard the latest story of our friend Lyttleton? It appears
that at some large party he was seated at the card table next to Mrs
Beaumont who expressed herself very dissatisfied with the smallness of
the stakes. "In the great houses which I frequent," she explained
grandly to Lyttleton, "we constantly play for _paper_." "Madam,"
said Lyttleton in a solemn whisper, "In the little houses which
_I_ frequent, we play for note paper."

Meanwhile another event had been arranged to take place on that Birthday
night which for Mrs Stanhope proved so unfortunate, and had been announced
by her so early as May 30th previously:--

On the Birthday, all the friends of Mr Pitt have agreed to dine
together instead of on _his_ birthday, which is just past. The
first idea rose from the Opposition wishing to dine together on the
4th, but many objected. They then determined to celebrate Mr Pitt's
birthday on that day. Your father means to be there.

"Pitt dinners," as they were subsequently termed, forthwith became an
annual institution, and were held in all parts of the United Kingdom. John
Stanhope, who, in 1806, was staying in Edinburgh, attended one in that
city, and eight days later was invited to be present at another public
banquet designed to be commemorative of a very different event.

Throughout the months of May and June, public attention had been absorbed
by the famous trial of Lord Melville. So early as May 6th, Mrs Stanhope
had written delightedly:--"You will be glad to hear that the cross-
examination of Mr Trotter went in fayour of Lord Melville who looked
perfectly composed the whole time." But not till the 12th did the end

_June 13th, 1806._

Your sisters both attended the trial and had the gratification of
hearing Lord Melville acquitted. The Prince had the good sense not to
vote. The Court was as full as possible & when the two youngest Peers

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